Tricking out an Ericson 32 MK3 for Racing

thadwoz

Member I
Hi All,

A little bit about myself. I have been crewing on race boats for over five years, working up from weekly beer-cans, to club races, local regatta, and eventually off-shore racing. At this point, I am now in the market for my own boat. The main objectives for my boat will be family sailing, teaching my kids how to sail, beer can and club phrf races, and overnight trips around the region. The ability to campaign the boat in more competitive races in the future would be preferred, but is not a core requirement. I would like to keep the boat on the smaller side (28-34') to make is easier to sail (smaller loads for the kids) an more affordable to trick out with a new sail inventory.

Having done research for a while, the Olson 911 seems to be at the top of my list, with a few other variants (Olson 25, Olson 34, Express 34) that are similar, but generally have some sort of trade-off compared to the Olson 911 (Olson 25 is pretty spartan, O/E 34's are on the upper end of my size range). While doing my research, I have been learning about the Ericson boats, mainly the 32-200 and 32-3, both which are intriguing on paper. However, most of the Ericson 32's that I have seen aren't set up to be raced, and aren't rigged with a spinnaker.

So, question is, has anyone seen any Ericson 32's tricked out for racing, and what types of modifications were made? How do you think a tricked out Ericson 32 would stack up as a race boat?
 

Geoff W.

Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm
Blogs Author
I have raced my 32-3 a fair bit around the PNW. It's definitely competitive in its fleet, but even tricked out you're going to be in the cruising / cruiser/racer fleet (think 160-190). 160 would be pushing it, too. If you have other competitive racers in that fleet around you, you could definitely do quite well.

I fly mine with an assym but it really needs a spinnaker to be competitive. We have done very well non-flying-sails going wing on wing. It rolls downwind in a breeze.

The boat goes to weather like a champ, and can absolutely sail to its rating. However, there is an Olson 911 that spanks me in the local beer cans. They have nicer sails but it's a faster boat, no doubt.

Good race upgrades are a rigid vang, adjustable backstay, and feathering prop. And a proper quiver of sails to match your local conditions, of course.

What part of the world are you in?
 

K2MSmith

Member III
Don't forget about the Ericson 33RH. It's a great racing boat ! You may have trouble finding one though as only 26 were made . There is also the 36RH which is similar but bigger.
I was thinking about an Express 34 at one time, but they are really hard to find. There are occasionally 911s that come up for sale. I also really like that boat but I wanted something a tad bigger and the 33RH was available.
 

thadwoz

Member I
I have raced my 32-3 a fair bit around the PNW. It's definitely competitive in its fleet, but even tricked out you're going to be in the cruising / cruiser/racer fleet (think 160-190). 160 would be pushing it, too. If you have other competitive racers in that fleet around you, you could definitely do quite well.

I fly mine with an assym but it really needs a spinnaker to be competitive. We have done very well non-flying-sails going wing on wing. It rolls downwind in a breeze.

The boat goes to weather like a champ, and can absolutely sail to its rating. However, there is an Olson 911 that spanks me in the local beer cans. They have nicer sails but it's a faster boat, no doubt.

Good race upgrades are a rigid vang, adjustable backstay, and feathering prop. And a proper quiver of sails to match your local conditions, of course.

What part of the world are you in?
San Francisco Bay Area. The 32-200 or 32-3 both rate 156 here, so it would most likely fall in that 150+ fleet.

Have you looked at setting your up with a spin? Right now it is a deal breaker for me to not have a spinnaker, I would get crushed in the club races which are general downwind.
 

Geoff W.

Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm
Blogs Author
San Francisco Bay Area. The 32-200 or 32-3 both rate 156 here, so it would most likely fall in that 150+ fleet.

Have you looked at setting your up with a spin? Right now it is a deal breaker for me to not have a spinnaker, I would get crushed in the club races which are general downwind.

Yep, and a few other of the cruisers around the forums have done just this. It's not too hard to get it set up; you may need to install a track on your mast, and some foredeck hardware for a downhaul, but there's a sheave on the mast for a topping lift already.

Do you know what you'd be racing against in your 150 fleet already? I think J35s are around that, and they are definitely a bit faster boat.
 

thadwoz

Member I
Yep, and a few other of the cruisers around the forums have done just this. It's not too hard to get it set up; you may need to install a track on your mast, and some foredeck hardware for a downhaul, but there's a sheave on the mast for a topping lift already.

Do you know what you'd be racing against in your 150 fleet already? I think J35s are around that, and they are definitely a bit faster boat.
Beer can race fleets see some J22s, Moore 24s, Olson25, Tartan 30, Capo 26, Santana 22, Cal 28, Columbia 5.5, Islander 36, Ranger 33.

No immediate intention on doing the regatta scene as I actively crew on an established boat, however the Captain is nearing retirement and has visions of cruising, so I would like to have a boat that can do the regatta scene well, when the time comes.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
family sailing, teaching my kids how to sail, beer can and club phrf races, and overnight trips

Sounds great. No need to spend a lot of money for club racing, which is what the 80s Ericson racer/cruisers aimed at. A traditional spinnaker may be required to compete, but has little other practical use. A 32-3/32-200, one of the best all-round designs ever, won't pass anybody dead downwind .
 

kapnkd

kapnkd
Our ‘73 E32-II when purchased new was primarily for cruising when living in Florida. We did a few races but nothing serious. It was a comfortable cruiser without question for two couples or us as a family of 3.

Moving us and the boat to Michigan in early ‘90 my young pre-teen son and his friends became my crew for the WNATR (beer can races). We started out and others first laughed saying here comes that Ericson.

We started upgrading sails, adding better winches, a good vang and backstay adjuster. The “kids” put their hearts into competing against adults and started winning. It soon became, “Here comes that DARN Ericson again!”

The boat has a good PHRF rating and as the kids skills improved she has gone on to be boat of the year several times and on the Trans-Erie Race in ‘99 took 1st place overall and set a class record that stood for almost 10 years!

Worth considering as a cruiser/racer as although not that many around, they can be had for a decent price. Here’s a photo with some but not all of the flags we’ve won.


9DD209BC-F0F3-42F0-91BF-43174B83A11A.jpeg
 

Slick470

Member III
A few notes on the Olson 911S/SE. They came in various trims and the mast head spinnaker "racing package" was an option and some of the boats were set up more as cruisers. Some even with wheel steering, but the cockpit was designed for a tiller and the wheel is on the small side to fit. Some have more interior cabinetry than others too.

Ours is a 1990 and it is set up for racing and we also have the less cabinetry option. While this is probably better for racing, as there are less places to stow stuff so you won't be carrying along a bunch of stuff you don't need. It also limits where you can put cruising stuff when using the boat for family cruising so it's not all over the place. Not a huge downside, but you need to be more creative. We're still working on the creative part.

After owning our boat and transitioning from more racing to more cruising, I wish ours had a bit more cabinetry for storage.

As far as tricking out a 32 that isn't already set up for racing. For an symmetrical spinnaker, you'll need at least:
  • a spinnaker, you may want a runner and a reacher
  • at least 1 additional mast head halyard above the genoa halyard and associated hardware, although 2 (port and starboard) is better
  • a topping lift and associated hardware
  • a downhaul and associated hardware
  • a properly sized spinnaker pole with bridles.
  • a mast ring (fixed will work, but adjustable on a track is better, for adjustable, pinstop will work, but line control is better)
  • a set of spinnaker sheets
  • a set of spinnaker guys (the sheets can pull double duty but on a heavier boat or in heavier air double sheets and guys is better)
  • a set of twings (or tweakers or whatever they are called locally) to choke down the sheets if you are only using sheets
  • a set of properly sized blocks at the stern for the sheets.
  • a set of properly sized blocks at the beam for the guys or if you run the twings back to the cockpit with a lead. If the twings are led with a lead, you'll need a set cam cleats somewhere near the cockpit, ours are on the aft end of the genoa tracks.
  • a set of cabin top or aft cockpit winches if the boat doesn't already have them to trim the sheets.
I'm sure I'm forgetting something important, but all that adds up in cost pretty quickly. Of course it can be done, and I've helped friends add spinnaker setups to their boats, but It may be better to find a boat that is already rigged for a masthead spinnaker.
 
Last edited:

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Interesting direction for the discussion! Way back when when racing our Ranger 20 in a one design class, there were three divisions: working sails, genoa, and spinnaker. I raced mostly, with one crew/friend, in working sails division. Became pretty good at sailing down wind with a whisker pole, and up wind was not a problem because the boat was light and fast with most any headsail.
We did some racing with the chute, but that really took a third person -- lots of crowded mark soundings on our river venue.

Racing our Niagara 26 was done with all sails including the chute. Loads of Fun and we won a lot of races.

That said, we have probably flown the symmetrical spinnaker that came with the Olson ten times total. Kind of labor intensive compared to "white sails" and the hull is so easily driven that we are satisfied with the speed.

Ericson 32-3 note: that hull is VERY easily driven, like sister designs from that era; Mr. King is a *very* talented designer. With decent sails I believe that it will perform well and bring home trophies -- of course within the limits of skill of the crew.

Ironic to read about spinnaker sailing elsewhere. Here more racers use A-sails, and some of the younger ones are rather dismissive of "old fashioned" spinnakers. I would say that both have their uses, and you have to have enough room to make long reaches to really gain from DW reaching and gybing. On our river it's sometimes not very productive.
(IMHO it's a bit like buyers demanding a wing on the trunk of their 4-door Honda sedan back in the 90's because they thought it looked fast; no harm other than difficulty with car washes, but no help when driving under 100 mph either...)
:)
 

G Kiba

Member III
The 911 SE is a fantastic boat. At least for me and what I do. I am almost race ready with the kite. Last step is the Twangers or whatever you want to call them. The SF Bay Area, I am learning, has so many local races and series. Some are even free to join in of cost very little. I think your plan to race and do family day sails is sound and makes the most sense for where you live whatever boat you decide on. Initially my family had little interest in racing but as the kids got older - it seems to have become a driving force for boat projects.
 

thadwoz

Member I
A few notes on the Olson 911S/SE. They came in various trims and the mast head spinnaker "racing package" was an option and some of the boats were set up more as cruisers. Some even with wheel steering, but the cockpit was designed for a tiller and the wheel is on the small side to fit. Some have more interior cabinetry than others too.

Ours is a 1990 and it is set up for racing and we also have the less cabinetry option. While this is probably better for racing, as there are less places to stow stuff so you won't be carrying along a bunch of stuff you don't need. It also limits where you can put cruising stuff when using the boat for family cruising so it's not all over the place. Not a huge downside, but you need to be more creative. We're still working on the creative part.

After owning our boat and transitioning from more racing to more cruising, I wish ours had a bit more cabinetry for storage.

As far as tricking out a 32 that isn't already set up for racing. For an symmetrical spinnaker, you'll need at least:
  • a spinnaker, you may want a runner and a reacher
  • at least 1 additional mast head halyard above the genoa halyard and associated hardware, although 2 (port and starboard) is better
  • a topping lift and associated hardware
  • a downhaul and associated hardware
  • a properly sized spinnaker pole with bridles.
  • a mast ring (fixed will work, but adjustable on a track is better, for adjustable, pinstop will work, but line control is better)
  • a set of spinnaker sheets
  • a set of spinnaker guys (the sheets can pull double duty but on a heavier boat or in heavier air double sheets and guys is better)
  • a set of twings (or tweakers or whatever they are called locally) to choke down the sheets if you are only using sheets
  • a set of properly sized blocks at the stern for the sheets.
  • a set of properly sized blocks at the beam for the guys or if you run the twings back to the cockpit with a lead. If the twings are led with a lead, you'll need a set cam cleats somewhere near the cockpit, ours are on the aft end of the genoa tracks.
  • a set of cabin top or aft cockpit winches if the boat doesn't already have them to trim the sheets.
I'm sure I'm forgetting something important, but all that adds up in cost pretty quickly. Of course it can be done, and I've helped friends add spinnaker setups to their boats, but It may be better to find a boat that is already rigged for a masthead spinnaker.

This sounds about right. I'd opt for the adjustable mast ring to increase the ease of tacking, and guys over twangs. I am trying to work out in my head how one would do a spinnaker peel with twangs, and I am not seeing it. Depending on the positioning, I presume the downhaul could also be used as a tack line for an assym if far enough forward?

edit: But I concur, locating a boat already set up would be preferable.
 

thadwoz

Member I
Interesting direction for the discussion! Way back when when racing our Ranger 20 in a one design class, there were three divisions: working sails, genoa, and spinnaker. I raced mostly, with one crew/friend, in working sails division. Became pretty good at sailing down wind with a whisker pole, and up wind was not a problem because the boat was light and fast with most any headsail.
We did some racing with the chute, but that really took a third person -- lots of crowded mark soundings on our river venue.

Racing our Niagara 26 was done with all sails including the chute. Loads of Fun and we won a lot of races.

That said, we have probably flown the symmetrical spinnaker that came with the Olson ten times total. Kind of labor intensive compared to "white sails" and the hull is so easily driven that we are satisfied with the speed.

Ericson 32-3 note: that hull is VERY easily driven, like sister designs from that era; Mr. King is a *very* talented designer. With decent sails I believe that it will perform well and bring home trophies -- of course within the limits of skill of the crew.

Ironic to read about spinnaker sailing elsewhere. Here more racers use A-sails, and some of the younger ones are rather dismissive of "old fashioned" spinnakers. I would say that both have their uses, and you have to have enough room to make long reaches to really gain from DW reaching and gybing. On our river it's sometimes not very productive.
(IMHO it's a bit like buyers demanding a wing on the trunk of their 4-door Honda sedan back in the 90's because they thought it looked fast; no harm other than difficulty with car washes, but no help when driving under 100 mph either...)
:)

Loren,

As briefly noted before, there are several races in this area that are 80% or more downwind. If I am racing 3+ hours downwind, some sort of spinnaker is needed. Maybe it is a transitional project; non-spinnaker the first season, and then rigging an assym for a few years, before adding the symmetrical spin.

PRFH ratings in theory normalize for the boat dimensions; on the water teams are (generally) differentiated by their tactics, execution, and sail inventory, both the quality of the sails and the diversity of options to handle multiple scenarios. If the Ericson can perform well in PHRF with whitesails, adding an assym and a range of symmetric spinnakers would just make it more competitive across a wider range of wind conditions.
 

thadwoz

Member I
The 911 SE is a fantastic boat. At least for me and what I do. I am almost race ready with the kite. Last step is the Twangers or whatever you want to call them. The SF Bay Area, I am learning, has so many local races and series. Some are even free to join in of cost very little. I think your plan to race and do family day sails is sound and makes the most sense for where you live whatever boat you decide on. Initially my family had little interest in racing but as the kids got older - it seems to have become a driving force for boat projects.

Agreed, so many opportunities to race in the Bay, across a wide range of competitiveness. My initial objective is the casual/fun races, beer cans and club races. But I don't want to be in a situation in 5-7 years were I am looking to buy a new boat to start campaigning a race team, so I would like this boat to be capable.

The Olson 911 seems to nail this (lucky you!), and the Olson 25 (too spartan) and Olson 34 (a hair big maybe, difficult to find) are close runners up. Those would be my preference I think if I could find any in good shape (relatively local would be ideal), with an E32 to upgrade possibly a more realistic option.
 

Slick470

Member III
This sounds about right. I'd opt for the adjustable mast ring to increase the ease of tacking, and guys over twangs. I am trying to work out in my head how one would do a spinnaker peel with twangs, and I am not seeing it. Depending on the positioning, I presume the downhaul could also be used as a tack line for an assym if far enough forward?

edit: But I concur, locating a boat already set up would be preferable.
Twangs should be removable. Some people use carabiners, ours are rigged with snatch blocks that open. So you'd disconnect them from the sheets before you did a peel. Sheets and guys can be a pain with all the extra hardware and lines to keep track of when gybing. With good foredeck and cockpit crew it's not a big deal, but it can get confusing. On 30 foot or less, you probably don't need them unless it's really windy. Over 30 foot, it depends a lot on the boat and conditions. I used to race a C&C MKIII and we always used sheets and guys unless it was super light and the extra weight of the guys would drag down on the sail. That boat was heavy enough that the guy side was pretty heavily loaded.

I think you could probably figure out a way to make the downhaul do double duty of both downhaul and tack line. It would take a bit of noodling to get the leads fair and set up so it's easy to switch between the sails.
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
I added a 6 ft. spinnaker pole car track to my 32-3 this summer. It wasn't outright difficult, but it was something like 24 holes to drill and tap for 5/16" fasteners, so it's not a breeze either. The mast has a centerline indentation over it's whole length so keeping the holes centered it easy. And, of course, you use the tack itself as a guide for the hole spacing. But, the top of the track is about 8 ft off the deck. The challenging part is drilling "straight" (both vertically and horizontally) holes without "walking" the bit while you're balancing on a ladder in still awkward positions. On maybe 3 of the holes, the pilot bit walked enough that the fastener "missed" the center of the hole. On these I had to over-drill and/or grind the track slightly to get the screw to fit. None of the "errors" are visible from the ground.

20200817_183045.jpg

The mast already had a sheave and tracer line run for a topping lift, so all I had to buy was the rope. The topping lift exists just below the upper spreaders.

I'm doing all this for cruising only. Puget Sound travel is all N-S (and so is the wind) so lots of opportunity for long downwind legs. I haven't flown a spinnaker yet, but I used the track for the whisker pole at the end of the season.
 

thadwoz

Member I
Twangs should be removable. Some people use carabiners, ours are rigged with snatch blocks that open. So you'd disconnect them from the sheets before you did a peel. Sheets and guys can be a pain with all the extra hardware and lines to keep track of when gybing. With good foredeck and cockpit crew it's not a big deal, but it can get confusing. On 30 foot or less, you probably don't need them unless it's really windy. Over 30 foot, it depends a lot on the boat and conditions. I used to race a C&C MKIII and we always used sheets and guys unless it was super light and the extra weight of the guys would drag down on the sail. That boat was heavy enough that the guy side was pretty heavily loaded.

I think you could probably figure out a way to make the downhaul do double duty of both downhaul and tack line. It would take a bit of noodling to get the leads fair and set up so it's easy to switch between the sails.
That makes sense. The twangs on the 28' boat I race for beer cans aren't removable (only one spinnaker anyway) so that is what I had in my head.

On the 40' boat we take the guys off and on between gybes to reduce the weight when it is really light, and also switch sheets if it is really really light.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
I don't want to be in a situation in 5-7 years were I am looking to buy a new boat to start campaigning a race team

If you develop an interest in serious racing much will change for you in that time period. Have fun now and keep all options open.
 

goldenstate

Member III
Blogs Author
My 32-200 came with a short track and pole ring at the front of the mast.

I have a topping-lift sheave 3/4's of the way up the mast and three forward-facing sheaves at the masthead.

Yesterday I bought a second-hand spinnaker pole (Forespar, 3" o.d.) the same length as the J of my jib for $200 on Craigslist. I need to install a toggle pin on my mast to make the pole work as is, so instead I am going to replace the female toggle inboard fitting with a jaw clamp and use my existing ring.

I know nothing about racing and have never flown a spinnaker, but if you would like to come check out a 32-200 I would be happy to show it to you. Sounds like you could give me some pointers on spinnaker flying. I'd be taking a class of some sort before I tried anything with a sail.

My boat is in Sausalito. PM me and we can set something up if you'd like.
 

thadwoz

Member I
I don't want to be in a situation in 5-7 years were I am looking to buy a new boat to start campaigning a race team

If you develop an interest in serious racing much will change for you in that time period. Have fun now and keep all options open.
Exactly, and that is the intent of this thread, to understand what is possible/feasible for potential future modifications/adjustments to an E32 so that my options are open. I appreciate all the advice and insights!
 
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